Colombo, June 14 (newsin.asia): In a drastic move which could have serious political consequences, the Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil majority Northern Province C.V.Wigneswaran, has asked all four members of his Board of Ministers to step down following the findings of a commission which went into charges of corruption against them.
Agriculture Minister P.Ayngaranesan and Education Minister T.Kurukularaja, who were found guilty by the commission comprising two retired High Court judges and a retired senior civil servant, were asked to hand in their resignations by mid day on Thursday.
Health Minister Dr.Sathiyalingam and Fisheries Minister B.Deniswaran, who were not found guilty, were also asked to go on leave for a month so that some fresh complaints against them could be investigated. The second move has invited flak which could lead to split in the ruling Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
Till the findings of the commission reach him, he will hold all the ministerial portfolios, the Chief Minister said.
While the Provincial Council members lauded the decision to call for the resignation of the two ministers held guilty, there was criticism about the institution of fresh investigations against the two ministers who had already been cleared of all charges.
The Tamil National Alliance MP for Jaffna District M.A.Sumanthiran said that the party, which has an overwhelming majority in the Provincial Council, will not accept the decision on the two ministers who had been cleared of all charges.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran, who sounded bitter about the publicly aired grievances against his administration, and even himself personally, said that a certain leader has been wanting his ouster so that he can take over. The Chief Minister even claimed that he was directly elected by the people to be Chief Minister and therefore cannot be ousted.
However, members pointed out that the under the Sri Lankan constitution, the Chief Minister is chosen by the members of the provincial council and is not elected by the people directly.
The Leader of the Opposition in the council, S.Thavarajah, said that under the constitution, the Chief Minister cannot take over portfolios of a minister when the minister concerned is on leave. If the Chief Minister is to take over, he will have to be sworn-in as minister by the Governor.
Thavarajah wondered how the Chief Minister, who has not able to deliver the goods in respect of the portfolios already held by him, can do justice to all the portfolios he has taken over.
A senior member of the council said that the TNA’s prospects in the elections due in 15 months’ time will be adversely affected by Chief Minister Wigneswaran’s action and his lackluster administration. The member said that it is unlikely that the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), which is the largest constituent of the TNA, will put up Wigneswaran as a candidate in the next election. The ITAK may also have to fight the next elections independently, without an alliance with other smaller pro-Wigneswaran parties, the senior member said.
(The featured picture at the top is that of C.V. Wigneswaran, Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province)